So there’s this church in Tennessee called Cornerstone Nashville. They received a letter from PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) this week asking them to kindly stop using live animals from nearby zoo Hollywild as sermon illustrations. (h/t Greenville Online)
Last Sunday, Cornerstone Nashville brought in some animals from South Carolina park Hollywild—including a cougar, horse, lion and ram—to use as sermon illustrations. Pastor Galen Davis at one point stood in front of a caged lion and spoke about the dangers of mistaking the voice of Jesus for the voice of the enemy: “The enemy has a voice and that voice is the voice of fear. Jesus has a voice and that voice of faith. Let us not confuse the scream of fear as the roar of faith.”
Not a bad line, but does it really warrant a real live lion in the middle of your church? PETA came back with some theology of their own: “All animals are individuals created by God’s wondrous hand, and they feel joy, sadness, loneliness and fear, just as humans do. Using them in these types of displays undermines what it means to be a good steward of God’s creation.”
Hollywild for its part isn’t known as a particularly good environment for animals. The U.S. Department of Agriculture fined them $19,000 recently following an investigation that found animals were being held in unsafe enclosures.
The park has been closed since 2017, but workers still care for the exotic animals present there.